School is back in session—but it’s never too early in the year to look at academic success. Some kids come back from summer refreshed and ready to work, while others struggle to get back into the groove of school, or perhaps they’ve never really found a positive routine there at all. San Joaquin County doesn’t wait to intervene. Through multiple programs, all 14 school districts in the county work with students, teachers, and faculty to ensure positive school experiences from both an academic and social-emotional standpoint, and perhaps their biggest asset is parent support.
The San Joaquin County Office of Education works with all SJ County districts with the goal of creating an environment where every student can succeed. The efforts echo the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act—an update to the No Child Left Behind Act that once ruled. “It’s more about a holistic look at kids,” says Melanie Greene, director of the Continuous Improvement and Support department at SJCOE.
So how does the program work? In the past, districts would often identify problems within the student population and the partnering departments would provide a one-size-fits-all program for the school to implement. The problem is that solutions are not one-size-fits-all because the kids are not one-size-fits-all.
The Continuous Improvement department now encourages teachers and other faculty to focus on the why. Through analyzing data and looking at student groups individually, these administrators can often identify why kids are struggling instead of simply what they are struggling with.
“It’s a real different approach than a few years ago,” Melanie says.
The process works a little like this. When a district is seeing a problem, the SJCOE is contacted. Members of the department will then request a school visit to see the atmosphere firsthand. Then, administrators may help analyze the school’s data to determine who needs help and how. Together a plan can be implemented that helps students find success through goal setting and celebrating milestones.
“Our Educational Services’ Continuous Improvement and Support department helps districts identify root causes as to why a student might be struggling and how they can help the student improve,” says Carly Sexton, public information officer for SJCOE.
The interventions go beyond supplemental tutoring (although this is sometimes part of the plan) to support a child’s social and emotional health, as well.
For example, if a child isn’t participating during a class, the assumption may be they are struggling in that subject, when in reality the child could be keeping quiet because a personal bully is in the classroom. In this case, tutoring will not help the student find success, but other interventions can.
“SJ County is really working alongside districts and we’re partnering with them to… personalize support,” Melanie says.
And for parents, it’s the same. The approach trickles down from SJCOE to districts to schools to teachers to individual families.
If a parent sees a child who doesn’t want to read at home, they may pose the question—why doesn’t my child like to read? Instead of trying to figure it out alone, the parent can take these observations to the teacher and pose the same question to the educator. The answer isn’t always that the child struggles to read—though it could be. The student could also lack interest in the provided material, and may find enjoyment in reading when they have access to new subject matter. The solution may be to bring new books into the home and the classroom that interest the child, and then set a reading goal. When the goal is met, celebrate. And then set a new goal to push progress forward.
“When families and teachers can set goals together and then regularly celebrate them, kids feel so much more motivated and learn how to set their own goals,” Melanie says.
This program oversees all districts in the county, but it isn’t the only program supporting student success in schools. Head Start San Joaquin helps parents learn to be involved in student success from a young age while specialty schools and special education classes address roadblocks for students. Tutoring is often the answer for students who struggle in specific subjects, but it could also be a school-wide problem, in which case teachers are the ones getting tutoring, not the students.
San Joaquin County Office of Education
2922 Transworld Dr., Stockton
HARP Learning Institute
322 W. Lodi Ave., Lodi
Sylvan Learning Center
526 W. Benjamin Holt Dr., Ste. A2, Stockton
4453 Precissi Ln.,, Stockton
Visions In Education